Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School


First Advisor

Rusty McIntyre, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Natalie Dove, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Ann R. Eisenberg, Ph.D.


Ableism is a form of systemic oppression that prejudices disabled people. Ableist views perpetuate the idea that being non-disabled as the ideal and disability is a flaw or weakness to avoid. This research compared how different reasons for disabilities might lead to ableism toward auditory and cognitive disabilities. Some participants read about an individual who had cognitive disabilities (TBI) from congenital reasons, others due to illness, and then others due to a lack of caution leading to an injury resulting in TBI. Similarly, participants also read about individuals who had experienced an auditory deficit (deafness) due to these varying reasons (the reasons and order of disabilities, TBI or deafness was randomized across participants). Participants then rated the extent to which they would openly award these targets a disabilities related scholarship in an open fashion, one that was due to non-congenital reasons, or ones that were not the result of fault. Participants also completed a number of scales that had examined prejudice toward the disabled (symbolic ableism scale, SAS) or more generally (social dominance orientation, SDO). Results from the study supported the hypothesis that ableism is more strongly expressed when the disabled person might be seen as responsible for the disability as compared to when they are seen as less responsible. Some additional correlations were found for the measures of prejudice too. The results have implications for how individuals who hold ableist views might perceive the disabled and how that leads to the continuation of such beliefs. Keywords: Ableism, Prejudice, Attribution

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Psychology Commons